Bill Iezzi: Agony of Defeat

After watching her field hockey team let two leads slip away to Eastern and lose the game, 4-3, Saturday afternoon, Washington Township coach Jeannine O’Connor summed it up this way: “I’ve never been part of a more devastating loss in all my years of coaching, to be this close to beating the best. But the kids stayed together and what we forced them [Eastern] to do was to be the champions they are….They are a dynasty.”             So Eastern (22-0) won the South Jersey Group 4 semifinal, leaving the Minutemaids (15-5) behind as it has done in a sectional semifinal or final for each of the last eight years.             Said Eastern coach Danyle Helig: “They [Township] went to every ball with 100 percent. They defended every lane with 100 percent. When they had the ball they were dynamic and had a purpose…Taking away the last 2 minutes of the game, they totally outplayed us.”             Eastern had previously yielded only three goals all season, one to Township on Sept. 16 in a 2-1 win. The two teams played three times and Eastern, ranked third in the nation, squeaked by on each occasion.             “We try to teach our kids to compete for 60 minutes…and I truly believe that’s one of the things we do better than a lot of people,” O’Connor said.